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Forever in Blue Jeans

couch1Raising three children, there seemed to be an endless supply of clothes that were outgrown or became unfashionable before their time.  Throwing away perfectly good clothes just isn’t something we can do.  But there are dozens of ways you don’t need to leave your old 501s behind!  Just take a Google at the endless tips and tricks  — from rice filled microwavable heating packs to pocket organizers for your kitchen wall.  Don’t have the time or desire to DYI?  You may want to consider donating your denim to a local charity.  Did you know some companies are making home insulation from old blue jeans?  For more information check out Cotton. From Blue to Green.

couch2As for me, I am not a seamstress, but I know how to thread a bobbin on my old Singer sewing machine.  And while I can’t read a dress pattern — I can sometimes close my eyes and imagine how fabric might come together to complete a vision in my mind.  Given that I barely have any idea how I even make some of the crafty expressions of our use-and-re-use household policy, this is not a DYI guide on how to get from point A to point Beautiful but rather a spark of insight on how you might be able to make something useful out of your old dungarees.

Looking at the price of even discount slipcovers for my dozen year old denim couch, I realized that I really couldn’t afford the luxury of a makeover unless it was a make-your-own-over solution.  In addition, traditional slip covers look smart when they are all nicely tucked in and tidy.  But after you sit down, the well planned pleats and creases seem to leave a less than neat seat behind.

I considered using my denim scraps to reupholster the couch with a few well placed gun staples.  But with our brood of even hairless pets it was important for me to have a cover that could easily go into the machine to wash and hang on our clothes line outside to dry.

In the past I have used large zippers to make futon covers and such, however the cost of materials made me think of how I could create a neat, non-slip cover for the couch with nothing more than thread and the old clothes I already had on hand.  The project would also need to be something I could do in piecemeal and work on bits at a time during the time my body felt I was able to sit up (or crouch on the floor) for a bit.

couch3The Concept:

Create a pillow case for the three seat cushions, that is easy to put on and stays put once in place.  Underneath and around the entire couch form a fitted cover made from denim legs with seat pocket trim on the arms for the TV remote controls.

The Pillow Case

I wanted something with color so I sorted out all of the old t-shirts into piles by hue.  Next, I made a cardboard template that was one foot square and used it to cut swatches out of the material.

couch pillow caseIt was fun to remember when the kids wore some of the shirts, the good times we had and other special milestones in our family story.  In some cases, I made sure to position the template to capture a special logo or cartoon on the shirt.  Then I placed all of the swatches on the floor of my bedroom.  I tried to alternate bold colors with strips and patterns that seemed pleasing – keeping in mind I wanted to be able to use both sides of the pillow case and noting which row would be on the front and which sewed together on the edges.

In addition to having the t-shirt sac all sewed up together, I added a wide hem (another 2 feet) from an old bed sheet to the end (where the pillow case opens) so that I could tuck the edge inside of the case ensuring that the cover would not come undone with the first tush to touch it.

The Slip Cover

couch rearTo begin the main construction of the couch cover, I split the legs of several pairs of jeans and placed them inside out along the rear edge of the couch.  One piece at a time I would carefully position the material right on the couch and gently pin the legs together.  Once I had all of the back in place I would sew the entire section and then start on the arms in much the same fashion.

I used t-shirts again on the back seat cushions and a stretch of the same bed sheet attached at the bottom that would go beneath the seat cushions and help keep everything in place.

couch bottom edgeIn order to make the slipcover easy to take on and off, I made a split in the sheet cover and used an old denim jacket to attach the two halves at the bottom of the couch which was also made from all the bottoms of the jeans.  Too cute, I know.

The key for me was to go slow.  Do one section at a time, placing each piece of fabric onto the couch inside out and then trimming and pinning until the form took shape.

In the end, it may not be a work of art.  But it is full of family memories as well as family values.

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